What is Valvuloplasty?: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results

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Valvuloplasty is a medical procedure used to ⁤repair damaged heart valves. It can also be used to widen blocked or narrowed heart‍ valves in order to improve the blood flow through them. This procedure may be performed in order to increase the quality of life of a person, or to prevent future problems in the ⁣heart such as congestive heart‌ failure. The aim of⁢ valvuloplasty is to improve the functioning of the heart valves ⁣and prevent the complications associated with faulty valve functioning.

What is Valvuloplasty

Overview Of Valvuloplasty

Valvuloplasty is a ⁢procedure used to repair or correct damaged heart valves. It is often referred to as “valve repair” or “valvular reconstruction” because the goal of the procedure⁢ is to ⁤restore the heart valve‍ to its original condition. Valvuloplasty‍ involves the opening of the heart valve,⁣ the widening​ of the opening, and the sewing back of the tissue which can be done either through open-heart surgery or using catheter-based techniques.

In open-heart surgery, ⁣a surgeon opens the chest and makes an incision in the heart⁣ wall. He or she ​then inserts a catheter (a tube) into‌ the affected heart valve and gently expands the opening. After the opening has ‌been widened, the surgeon then sutures ‌the edges back together. The tissue that was sewn back together forms a‌ stronger and ⁤better functioning valve.

Valvuloplasty using catheter-based techniques is a newer, ⁤minimally invasive ⁢option. The catheter ⁣is inserted⁣ through a ‌vein in the leg or a small incision in the chest and guided up to the heart valve. A balloon on the⁤ tip of the catheter is then inflated and it‌ gently ‌widens ​the opening. It can ⁤be used to repair damaged heart ⁣valves in smaller babies⁣ and even some adults.

Benefits Of Valvuloplasty

Valvuloplasty offers several benefits when compared to open-heart surgery. It is a less invasive ⁤procedure, which means it ​is less risky and there is a lower risk of ‍complications. It also reduces the amount of time a person needs to stay in the hospital and often leads to​ a quicker recovery time.

Valvuloplasty can also improve a person’s quality of life. After​ the procedure, the patient should experience improved blood flow through the heart valves, reducing shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and ⁤palpitations.

Risks & Complications Of Valvuloplasty

Valvuloplasty is ‍a safe and relatively low-risk procedure. However, there can‌ be some complications associated with it. ⁢These may include bleeding, infection, blood clots, and valve leakage. In addition, valvuloplasty⁣ procedures do carry a ‌risk of blood vessel or organ damage.

Expected Results Of Valvuloplasty

The expected results of a valvuloplasty procedure vary, depending on the severity⁢ of the valve damage. For most people, the procedure results in marked improvement in the quality of life. It should improve blood flow through ‍the heart ‌and reduce any shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and palpitations that they may experience. The improved flow of blood should also reduce the risk of heart ‍failure and‌ stroke.

In some cases, however, the procedure may not be effective. In these cases, additional treatments may ​be necessary in order‌ to improve the quality of life of the patient.

Definition & Overview

The human heart has several valves that play important roles in keeping the blood flowing in and out of its four chambers. These are the tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral, and aortic valves. Sometimes, these valves become narrow and impair blood flow – a condition called valvular stenosis, which could lead to a variety of heart conditions such as heart failure, angina or chest pain, arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, and heart murmur.

Valvuloplasty or stiff heart valve repair surgery is used to correct this condition. It is performed by inserting a narrow catheter into the affected valve, enlarging it and improving blood flood in the process.

This procedure is typically recommended if alternative treatments, including medications and lifestyle changes, have failed to improve the patient’s condition.

Who Should Undergo & Expected Results

Valvular stenosis, which can be congenital or acquired, can affect both children and adults. If it is congenital, it can impair the development and growth of the affected child. In this case, valvuloplasty is recommended to repair and improve blood circulation.

Stiff heart valve repair surgery is also recommended for adults with stenotic heart valve caused by bacterial infection leading to rheumatic fever and those who developed calcium obstructions in one of their heart valves.

In rare instances, pregnancy could also lead to the development of aortic valve stenosis. To alleviate the associated symptoms, valvuloplasty may be recommended though care is taken to ensure the safety of the foetus.

Valvuloplasty could also be a part of treatment for patients with advanced stenotic valve who are scheduled to undergo aortic valve replacement procedure later on. This scenario is very common among older patients who might not get the full benefit of valvuloplasty.

Stiff heart valve surgery is considered an effective treatment for stenotic valve condition, especially among children, teens, and young adults. Several days of hospitalization is required following this surgery. The patient would then be administered with anticoagulants to keep the blood flowing and might be required to take pain medication.

There are generally positive outcomes from this procedure, especially in younger patients. Among adults, there is a possible recurrence of stenotic valve condition that would necessitate another stiff heart valve surgery after a few years.

Patients can resume normal daily activities after a couple of weeks following the procedure, but would require periodic check-ups to monitor the effectiveness of the operation and prevent recurrence.

How Does the Procedure Work?

This procedure is usually done in a specialised laboratory with special equipment and X-ray monitors that will aid the surgeon in inserting and guiding the catheter. Valvuloplasty starts with the insertion of the catheter in the groin area of the patient, who is sedated and awake during the entire process. The catheter is inserted into the vein or artery and advanced to the heart. A contrast dye is then injected to evaluate the affected area using several monitors. Once the catheter reaches the affected valve, a balloon located at the tip of the catheter will be inflated to widen the narrowed valve. The balloon could be inflated several times to achieve the desired opening. After widening the valve, the balloon is deflated and the catheter removed. The insertion site in the groin is then closed and the patient is asked not to bend the leg for several hours after surgery.

Valvuloplasty usually takes about four hours to complete.

Possible Complications and Risks

Though generally considered a safe procedure, there are still several risks and complications associated with valvuloplasty. The affected heart valve could be damaged or become misshapen. The valve leaflets could also be completely damaged, which can further worsen the patient’s condition. In some cases, the valve might need to be replaced immediately.

Bleeding could also occur at the insertion site and in some cases, patients may require a blood transfusion if there is a significant loss of blood. The catheter could also cause damage to the vein or artery where it is inserted, leading to internal bleeding that would require emergency care.

Several medical conditions could also develop such as stroke, abnormal heart beat, or even valve rupture, which would require an open heart surgery.

There are also reported allergic reactions to the dye used during the procedure, as well as adverse conditions following exposure to radiation.


  • Coeytaux RR, Williams JW Jr., Gray RN, Wang A. Percutaneous heart valve replacement for aortic stenosis: state of the evidence. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153:314-324. PMID: 20679543

  • Fullerton DA, Harken AH. Acquired heart disease: valvular. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 61.


Valvuloplasty ⁣is a procedure used to repair damaged heart​ valves. It⁣ can either be performed through open-heart surgery or catheter-based techniques. This procedure offers ‍several⁣ benefits, including improved blood flow through the heart and reduced symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue. It is a relatively safe and low-risk procedure, but there are still some risks and complications associated with it. The expected results vary, ⁣depending⁤ on the severity of the valve damage, but in most cases it results in improved quality of life.



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